What are Applied Games?

Table of Contents

League of Legends, Fortnite, Counter Strike – these names are notorious for hours of incredible fun and entertainment it has brought to countless people around the world.

What if you could utilize these concepts to transform education into a fun and competitive process? Applied Games are designed for exactly this purpose – the gamification of education so as to engage learners on an entirely unprecedented level.

Way back in 1970, an American researcher named Clark C. Abt formalized the concept and usages of Applied Games. Today, it’s being used in industries like health-care and defense to provide simulated experiences for practice and training. Growth and technological advancements in the field are enormous and considerable.

So what is that?

Applied Games are also known as Serious Games.

Clark C. Abt defined Applied Games as the “games which have an explicit and carefully thought-out educational purpose and are not intended primarily for amusement”. [p.9]

Applied Games have opened up methods for learning and education; upending the centuries-old model of lessons, lectures and memorization.

The most popular example of Applied Game is “Minecraft”, a video game which has an explicit connection between gaming and education. It lets players create an imaginary 3D world using a series of different blocks and forces them to use their creativity and imagination. According to a 2016 study, Minecraft helped players build brain cells and served as an effective way to introduce kids to computer programming. Here’s a short video explaining how Minecraft works.

This can also be exemplified by how Tan Tock Seng Hospital used Applied Games to simulate high-risk healthcare crises, training their nurses to better deal with patients suffering from chest pains.

Applied Games vs Entertainment Games

Applied Games Entertainment Games
Focuses on learning and problem solving Focuses just on fun and entertainment
Has a defined purpose, outcome or (and) message Purely for amusement and fun


Applied Games vs Gamification

Both the words are similar but not exactly the same.

  • Applied Game is basically a learning solution designed in the form of a game.
  • Gamification is the use of game mechanics to enhance traditional learning experiences.

Features of a Gamified Learning Platform

A well-designed gamification platform can convert training and learning to highly engaging and interactive processes, thus motivating the players to keep playing.

The features that gamify the learning lessons are:

  1. Constant and Instant Feedback

The process couldn’t be more interactive when players can see their progress and performance scores live. The continuous and instant feedback makes sure that the player actively engages in the process.

The feedback can be cumulative, cognitive or (and) goal-oriented.

  1. Rewards and Redemptions

While playing, nerve cells in the brain release a little thing called Dopamine which signals the players’ rewards-satisfaction feelings.

The game is designed in such a way that the better they perform, the more rewards they get or the more achievements they unlock. This can be done through several methods such as the creation of a leaderboard or a game reward system. The feeling of having a user’s progress tracked and rewarded can keep them motivated and focused on the learning process.

  1. Competition and Social Interaction

A study found that the competition is not the opposite of community.

A community can always be built where the players can enjoy healthy competition among themselves through multiplayer modes and can share their achievement milestones with the community.

  1. Interactive Challenges

Passive sit-and-listen lectures can be one of the main issues with the traditional learning system, and Applied Games perfectly solve this problem by encouraging interaction & greater involvement.

The players can apply their knowledge or skills by engaging in various activities like detective games, competitions, making predictions, etc.

Applications of Applied Games

Today, the Applied Games are being used in multiple industries and its uses are increasing exponentially each day.

  1. Health-care

Applied Games are used in the health-care industry to pass knowledge and skills about certain medical conditions and the appropriate responses. It provides a simulated medical situation for training and education to avoid risks and reduce the budget. (Eg. Tan Tock Seng Nurse Training)

  1. Training and Education

Generally, games are of addictive nature; and Applied Games in the education industry tricks players to spend more time playing in order to practice and learn more. These increase interactivity and engagement more considerably than traditional learning. (Eg. National University of Singapore)

  1. Construction

Applied Games can have multiple uses in the construction industry. Some of them can include an understanding of the design framework, layout & plumbing, concrete mixing & placement, and important safety measures. (Eg. Work at Heights Simulation)

  1. Advertisement

There’s a proper term for advertising using games, and these are called advergames. The Applied Games promote or advertise any particular brand or product while the player plays the game. (Eg. Cisco)

  1. Communication

Communication Applied Games can be of many types. For example, as a native English speaker, you want to learn Spanish; then there can be a city where you can practice speaking Spanish and making appropriate gestures with the locals. (Eg. Duolingo)

These are the main applications but there can be hundreds of possible uses of the Applied/Serious Games as it’s just the start.

Future Scope

With more and more companies stepping in, the market for Applied Games is going to have a huge potential in the near future.

Today, a simple Google search for the keyword “applied games” provides more than 67,30,00,000 results, which clearly states its popularity.

The worldwide revenue of Applied Games is reported to be 3.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, and is expected to grow up to 24 billion USD in 2024 — that’s a whopping 585% increase.

We foresee the following market opportunities and trends of the game:

  • Development of Applied Games for mobile devices would rise significantly
  • Development of user-focused games will rise
  • Other modalities (like smell & touch) will be explored (apart from visual & auditory modalities)
  • Adaptive gaming — gaming contents would be adjustable as per the player’s age, height, gender, and other related criteria
  • Sensory-based simulation games can be created by using the real-world sensory data


The number of available markets for leveraging Applied Games is ever-increasing and many markets are yet to be identified.

As the global market revenue of Applied Games increases exponentially, this is the best time for companies to start investing in it and capitalize on emerging technology for higher Return on Investment in human capital.


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